I’d say Meta’s Horizon Worlds shot themselves in the foot, but they don’t have any

Not satisfied with making the real world worse in many ways, Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook) have been hard at work on enhancements to their virtual world. It turns out that their latest one doesn’t have legs, either literally or figuratively.

Meta announced that Horizon Worlds avatars were finally getting legs and feet…

Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the avatars in their VR world Horizon Worlds are finally getting a feature they’ve been missing — legs and feet! Here’s a snippet from that announcement:

I haven’t been following Horizon Worlds at all, so my first question was: “They don’t already have feet?”

So I did a quick search, and wow, do the current Horizon Worlds avatars look odd:

They don’t look all that different from Xbox 360 avatars from the Kinect era (and my time at Microsoft) — and remember, that was a dozen years ago! — minus legs and feet:

…but then it turned out that the demo was faked with motion capture

In a tweet yesterday, VR news site UploadVR’s Ian Hamilton revealed the truth:

Kotaku summarized succinctly: Facebook’s Legs Video Was A Lie.

Rather than use actual functionality from an upcoming version of Horizon Worlds to render their new leggy avatars, Zuckerberg and co. opted to use a movie-style motion capture to create an effect that yes, it does show what they’re intending to do, it doesn’t show the thing in action, but a simulation. In fact, since Horizon Worlds is a simulation, this fakery is a simulation of a simulation.

I know that there’s always some level of glossing-over or fakery in demos, or as John Perry Barlow liked to put it, “

I know that there’s always some level of glossing-over or fakery in demos, or as John Perry Barlow liked to put it, “Bullshit is the grease for the skids on which we ride into the future.” However, Meta may have applied it a little too much for so silly a feature.

Hardware Mobile

Sidetalking makes a (slight) comeback


While getting groceries, I saw this endcap for cotton candy-flavored energy drink. The “XBox controller as phone” pose is silly, but it also reminded me of a phone I’d wanted way back in the early 2000s: the Nokia N-Gage.

The Nokia N-Gage. Tap to view at full size.

Released in 2003 (in the pre-smartphone era, back when mobile phones sported a lot of dedicated buttons), the N-Gage was a phone-meets-handheld gaming device. IGN summed it up best as “a bad console filled with bad games,” and it didn’t help that the speaker and microphone were mounted on its side. In order to use it as a phone, you’d have to hold it like this — a position that would come to be known as sidetalking:

Sidetalking looked silly, so soon there were sidetalking photos featuring people using the N-Gage while making silly faces…

…followed by people ditching the N-Gage altogether and opting to take sidetalking photos with any old electronic thing, turning it into a full-blown meme:

I even got on the fun, using my device of choice:

In case you’re wondering, I’m not really pining for the N-Gage anymore. My iPhone 13 Pro is a decent gaming phone, and on the Android side, I’ve got a Nubia Redmagic 6R that plays Genshin Impact rather nicely.

Games Hardware Humor

Know your logic gates!

Need explainers?


The satisfying shutter on an old-school optical disk cartridge

A most satisfying “sliding shut” sound.

This morning, I noticed that this blog has been getting hundreds of additional pageviews coming from a Reddit post, and they’ve all been going to an article of mine from 2014: Old tech of the day: Optical disk cartridge and friends. In honor of the renewed interest in old removable storage tech, I present you with the video above, showing an optical disk cartridge’s shutter in action. Enjoy!

My 2014 article features pictures from an eBay listing for a 2.52 GB optical disk cartridge, which featured these photos:

These were mostly used in enterprise computing in the mid- to late-1990s, around the time when external storage technologies were exploding. Back then, I lived in Toronto and was a regular customer at CCBC — short for Computer Consumables Buyer’s Club — where I’d drop money on SyQuest cartridges (44 MB and 88 MB), Zip disks, Jaz disks, and CD-Rs, and look with curiosity at Bernoulli disks, EZ disks, and SparQ disks.

Do you have any online photos of old storage tech? Send me a link in the comments, and I’ll update this post and credit you.

Hardware Mobile

A $300 milk crate for road warriors?

Every now and again, Facebook shows me an ad that I feel compelled to click, simply because I can’t believe what I’m seeing and need to know more. The latest of these ads is for the product pictured above: the AutoExec AECRATE-15, which retails at Home Depot for…


More precisely, it retails for $296.93, which rounds up to $300, but to my mind, that seems pretty exorbitant for a milk crate with a power inverter and stands for a tablet and smartphone. The manufacturer doesn’t even attempt to hide this fact: it’s listed as “Milk Crate Vehicle and Mobile Office Work Station with Phone Mount, Tablet Mount and Power Inverter”.

I’ve designed and developed mobile apps who primary users are people that work in their cars and trucks, so I understand the usefulness of the AECRATE-15, with its ability to support and charge your electronic office equipment and store your paperwork.

Surely this is something that you could put together for considerably less than three “Benjamins”.

Bestek 300W Power Inverter
(Plugs into your car’s “cigarette lighter” outlet and provides two household-style electrical outlets and 2 USB electrical outlets)
$36 at
Phone mount for cars$10 – $30 at
iPad mount for cars$20 – $40 at
Juggernaut storage milk crate
(Assuming you don’t simply grab one from behind a convenience store, just like every university student building makeshift furnishings or any self-respecting DJ)
$26 for 2 at
Total$102 – $132

Still, if you have the money and feel that you need the factory-made version, you can pick it up at Home Depot. Enjoy!

Hardware Tampa Bay

Screwbox: My go-to for Mac repairs in Tampa Bay

The quick summary: If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and need your Mac repaired, Steve Bush of Screwbox will come to where you are, pick it up, repair it, and bring it back to you. I needed repairs done on my 2014-era MacBook Pros, and Steve did a fantastic job fixing them — and I didn’t even have to leave my house!

My old MacBook Pros are still solid development machines

The last time my MacBook Pro was in an office: March 2020, adding features to the Lilypad app.

Even though the new M1 Max-powered MacBooks are singing their siren songs to me, I’m still doing my independent work on my personal MacBook Pros:

  • A refurbished mid-2014 15″ MacBook Pro that I bought in early 2015 for a nice discount, back when I was working for a company that expected you to provide your own laptop, and
  • A mid-2014 13″ MacBook Pro that a client gave to me in 2016 for building an iPad app in lieu of cash. Ah, the joys of freelancing when the company you work for cuts its workforce…

They’ve served me well…

I’m still doing all my “side hustle” work on these machines, doing iOS, Android, and Python development, along with video and music production. They do the job just fine, which includes composing this post and the images that go with it.

That being said, we’re at the point where the current version of macOS — version 12, a.k.a. “Monterey” — won’t run on them (version 11, a.k.a. “Big Sur”, is the latest version that runs on my MacBooks). Between that and Apple’s move from Intel processors to their own amazingly fast silicon, I expect to buy an M1 MacBook as a birthday present to myself in November and put my old MacBooks to work as home servers.

I needed repairs

Close-up photo of a MacBook trackpad popping out of alignment de to a bulging battery

My 15″ MacBook Pro was still processing just fine, but its trackpad was no longer responding to touch or presses, and in fact, it was becoming quite difficult to “click”.

Speaker icon

The 13″ had a different problem: sound, especially once the volume was past the 50% mark, was distorting, which meant the speakers were damaged.

There were free workarounds for both issues, but I decided that I wanted repairs done, if available for a reasonable price. I asked around, and got a couple of enthusiastic recommendations for Screwbox.

My experience: Great!

I filled out the contact form at the bottom of Screwbox’s home page, and Steve Bush got in touch with me via text shortly afterward. The description of my MacBooks’ issues was enough for him to diagnose their problems:

  • With the 15″, the trackpad didn’t work because the battery was bulging, and the battery is located beneath the trackpad. His recommendation: Replace the battery. After watching this video to see what the procedure was, I opted to have Steve do it.
  • The solution for the 13″ was obvious: replace the speakers. I thought that I might want to try this myself, so I watched this video. The process is less complex than battery replacement, but in the end, enlightened laziness (one of the great programming virtues) won out, and let Steve do it.

As promised on the site, Steve gave me a flat rate quote for the work: $199 plus tax for each repair, for a grand total of $431.83, payable in advance via Zelle. He would order the parts, pick up the MacBooks from my place when the parts arrived, perform the repair at his shop, and drop them off at my place once repaired. Once you factor in the cost of labor, parts, and travel, it’s quite clear that he’s offering a deal.

I Zelled him the money, and he picked up my MacBooks a couple days later when the parts arrived. He returned my fully-functioning MacBooks a day later, and I didn’t even have to leave the house!

Steve’s service was helpful and fast, and I wouldn’t hesitate to contact him again for Mac repair. If you’re in the Tampa Bay area and need a Mac fixed, you’ll want to reach out to Screwbox and Steve Bush.

Deals Hardware Mobile

Motorola phones on sale for Labor Day

If you’re looking for an inexpensive Android phone for doing development work or testing, or just as a phone, Motorola, my go-to vendor for inexpensive Android devices is having a Labor Day sale!

Here are three of the phones that are currently on sale that I think would be good for someone who wants to get started with Android development. Yes, you can always use an emulator, but there’s no substitute for developing and testing on an actual device.

All of these devices are fully unlocked, which means they’ll work on any carrier. Motorola don’t include much junkware on their phones — it’s as close to stock Android as you’re going to get without buying a Pixel. All were released this year.

Motorola’s G line has always been a reliable way to get mid-level features at a starter phone price. If you want to get a device that performs at the level of the typical Android phone for users who live outside the G7 bubble (and let’s face it, that’s most of the world), or need to provide a workforce with a mobile computing device, you want this one.

  • Release date: January 14, 2021.
  • OS: Android 10
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 (11 nm). Here’s a list of phones that use this chipset.
  • GPU: Adreno 610. Here’s a list of phones that use this GPU.
  • Memory: 2 versions
    • 3 GB RAM, 32 GB “disk”
    • 4 GB RAM, 64 GB “disk”
  • Main camera:
    • 48 megapixel wide sensor,  f/1.7, (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 2 megapixel macro sensor, f/2.4
    • 2 megapixel depth sensor, f/2.4
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 or 60 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Selfie camera:
    • 8 megapixel sensor, f/2.0, 1.12µm
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Battery: Li-PO 5000 mAh

At the current discount price of $250, the Moto G Stylus is the phone on this list that provides the best bang for the buck. As its name implies, it has a stylus, and if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Galaxy Note line (and a much better choice than the LG Stylo), give this one a look.

  • Release date: January 14, 2021.
  • OS: Android 10
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 (11 nm). Here’s a list of phones that use this chipset.
  • GPU: Adreno 612. Here’s a list of phones that use this GPU.
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM, 128 GB “disk”
  • Main camera:
    • 48 megapixel wide sensor,  26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 megapixel ultrawide sensor, f/2.2, 118˚, 1/4.0, 1.12µm
    • 2 megapixel macro sensor, f/2.2
    • 2 megapixel depth sensor, f/2.4
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 or 60 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Selfie camera:
    • 16 megapixel sensor, f/2.0, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Battery: Li-PO 4000 mAh

I’m including this phone in this list just to make this list of $500-and-lower phones complete. My personal recommendation is to pay $50 less and get the RedMagic 6R, which gives you Samsung Galaxy S21-level power.

At its normal price of $700, I’d say “no”, but at a $200 discount, I’d say “think about it”. You’re getting near-flagship level features at mid-level prices. This phone boasts a 144Hz screen refresh rate (good for gaming), a solid chipset, and cameras with great specs.

But still, I’d say that if you’re looking for maximum computing bang for the buck at this price point, you want the RedMagic 6R, which currently starts at $450.

  • Release date: September 2, 2021.
  • OS: Android 11
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G (6 nm). Here’s a list of phones that use this chipset.
  • GPU: Adreno 642L. Here’s a list of phones that use this GPU.
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM, 256 GB “disk”
  • Main camera:
    • 108 megapixel wide sensor,  f/1.9, (wide), 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF
    • 8 megapixel ultrawide sensor, f/2.2, 119˚ (ultrawide), 1.12µm, AF
    • 2 megapixel depth sensor, f/2.4, (depth), 1.75µm
  • Video:
    • 4K at 30 fps
    • 1080p at 30, 60 or 120 fps
    • 720p at 960 fps
    • Gyro-EIS
  • Selfie camera:
    • 32 megapixel sensor, f/2.3, (wide), 0.7µm
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Battery: Li-PO 5000 mAh